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Home > Greater Diversity Will Positively Redefine The Industry

Greater Diversity Will Positively Redefine The Industry

17 Aug, 2020
Although there are many reasons for the lack of equal gender representation in the IT industry, there are two commonly mentioned ones. 

Liziwe Maseko – Executive for Digital Development, BCX

The first is that women sometimes adopt the mindset that the field is too complex to enter, while the second is that those already in the industry – usually men – adopt the attitude that the field is too technical for women. However, says Liziwe Maseko, Executive for Digital Development at BCX, the ICT space is a broad one, and success is usually built on problem-solving skills. The breadth of the industry means no one need fear its complexity, she points out. Women’s unique problem-solving capabilities will stand them in good stead, however technical things become. “If we truly seek gender parity, we need to encourage more young girls to study the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects at school level. Furthermore, it’s important that the industry itself puts effort into attracting more women, through programmes such as Wired4Women. Wired4Women is a BCX initiative aiming to devise concrete ways to strengthen the female pipeline for the industry, while raising awareness of the role of women in the ICT sector. Finally, business needs to work alongside the Education Department to help schools more clearly understand exactly what subjects learners require in order to participate in this space,” she says.

Maseko points out that she was drawn to the sector through her fascination with the power that computers have. It’s an arena that never gets stale, where there are always new developments and where the constant evolution of technology continuously offers new options. “For my part, it was also about becoming a success as a way of proving people wrong about women and IT. As for those women who have already achieved success in the industry, it is very important for us to act as mentors and role models for those who follow. This is vital, because it is always easier to picture yourself being promoted to a senior role if you can see someone else like you already at that level.”

“In my career, I have had both male and female mentors, and you learn plenty from each. In fact, I think if we could have more women mentoring young men coming into the industry, we would more easily be able to change the patriarchal mindset that seems too common by far in SA.”

She points out that women bring a range of critical skills to the table that can be enormously beneficial to a business. For one thing, women tend to be more emotionally aware of surroundings and think collectively and collaboratively, so a key strength lies in diffusing conflicts – which ultimately leads to better, more inclusive solutions.

“Fostering a sense of belonging for every-one will lead to greater diversity, and the greater the number of different views you can obtain relating to a specific challenge, the more chance you have of solving it. Moreover, we need to be able to discuss uncomfortable things without getting defensive about them, which is where the collaborative approach comes in.

I believe it’s time for inclusive leadership – we stand at a key inflection point in history, more aware than ever of previous disparities, making this the perfect time for women to make their mark here. Also, this is an industry that touches every facet of the economy and is ingrained in the lives of every citizen. Therefore, if you want to have a genuine impact on society, the IT industry is the ideal place to be,” she concludes.

Editorial credit: IT Web / Brainstorm 

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